Maria Hoefl-Riesch

Maria Hoefl-Riesch retires from Alpine skiing

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German Maria Hoefl-Riesch retired Thursday, ending one of the greatest recent careers in Alpine skiing.

“My decision is to end my career now,” she said, according to The Associated Press.

Hoefl-Riesch, 29, won four Olympic medals and six World Championships medals. She finished in the top three of the World Cup overall standings each of the last seven seasons, including winning the title over friendly rival Lindsey Vonn in 2010-11.

Hoefl-Riesch said at the Sochi Olympics she would not ski at the Olympics in 2018. She crashed at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on March 12, ending her season prematurely.

Hoefl-Riesch, who was leading the World Cup overall standings when she crashed, finished second to Austria’s Anna Fenninger overall and won the downhill crystal globe.

Hoefl-Riesch’s versatility is apparent from her Olympic medals. She won gold in 2010 in the super combined and the slalom, gold in 2014 in the super combined and silver in Sochi in the super-G.

“One should quit when it’s the best and that [Sochi] was the best that could have happened to me,” Hoefl-Riesch said, according to the AP. “”The first gut feeling after the Olympics and the gold medal was to retire on that success.

“It was a dream-like career, I was at the top in all disciplines over the years.”

Hoefl-Riesch, Vonn and Tina Maze have been the class of women’s Alpine skiing over the last two Olympic cycles, following the retirement of Janica Kostelic and Anja Paerson finishing her career.

Vonn, 29 like Hoefl-Riesch, plans to return to skiing next season following knee surgeries. Maze, 30, has said she will not ski at the next Olympics but hasn’t said when she will retire.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career